Three years after fire ripped up from the sixth floor to the 21st floor in a matter of minutes, the builder behind the Lacrosse apartment towers in Melbourne’s Docklands has agreed to replace the combustible cladding on the tower, News Ltd has reported.

The Herald Sun has reported that builder LU Simon said it had agreed to replace the cladding as a gesture of good faith.

“(This is) so that the owners and residents are not inconvenienced any further by the lengthy legal process which is underway at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal that will decide how the costs are to be divided up between the various parties,” a statement by the builder said.

“As part of the VCAT action LU Simon will in turn seek to recover the cost of the replacement works.”

In the statement, the company said it was confident that an agreement with the owners corporation, apartment owners themselves and the municipal building surveyor could be reached soon.

This would enable work on the replacement to commence in early 2018 and be completed by the middle of the year.

More than 400 people were evacuated from the Lacrosse tower in late November after fire started by a discarded cigarette on a balcony ripped up fifteen floors in a matter of minutes.

Subsequent testing found the cladding on the building to be combustible and Melbourne City Council order it to be replaced – at an estimated cost of $16 million or $40,000 per apartment.

Owners had been fighting to have the builder pay for replacement, but the builder had previously refused.

The works were required to be completed by July 2018.

City of Melbourne Municipal Building Surveyor Steven Baxas welcomed the builders decision, saying that the Council hoped other builders with buildings requiring cladding rectification works follow the example.

Following the Lacrosse fire, an audit by inner city towers conducted by the Victorian Building Authority found that over half of all apartment buildings did not meet safety regulations in respect of cladding.

A taskforce appointed by the State Government in July has requested audits of buildings across several other inner and outer suburban areas including Port Phillip, Moreland, Greater Dandenong, Whittlesea and Monash.